Johan Santana helped New York top Dan Haren and the Arizona Diamondbacks in the decisive game of a series last month. He has a chance to do it again, but the Mets’ bullpen could use a break this time.
After snapping a five-game skid with a 13-inning win, the Mets will send their ace to the mound to match up with Haren and the NL West-leading Diamondbacks for the second time this season when the teams conclude a three-game series Thursday.
New York (31-33) was in desperate need of a win in the middle game of this series, and Carlos Beltran gave it one by hitting a two-run homer with two outs in the 13th inning as the Mets won 5-3 on Wednesday night.
“We’ve been playing good baseball and it’s time for us to get some bounces,” New York catcher Brian Schneider said.
The Mets, considered among the favorites to reach the World Series after acquiring Santana in the offseason, are 6 1/2 games behind first-place Philadelphia in the NL East.
When New York won two of three games at Arizona from May 2-4, it seemed the Mets may have been set to put together a run. New York continues to search for answers, but another series win over the NL West-leading Diamondbacks (35-31) would certainly help.
In the last series between the teams, Santana (7-4, 3.08 ERA) gave up one run and six hits while striking out eight over six innings as the Mets won the decisive game of a three-game set 5-2 on May 4. He matched up with Haren (6-4, 3.44), who allowed two runs, three hits and struck out seven in six innings.
Santana improved to 2-0 with a 0.82 ERA and a .162 opponents batting average in three career starts against the Diamondbacks, striking out 24 in 22 innings in that span. Haren, meanwhile, has not received a decision in two starts and one relief appearance versus New York, posting a 2.87 ERA in 15 2-3 innings.
Though both players pitched well in that last meeting, New York and Arizona could use longer outings out of them after combining to use nine relievers Wednesday.
Santana, 2-1 with a 2.18 ERA in his last three starts, has yet to pitch over 7 2-3 innings this season.
The left-hander gave up two runs - one earned - and seven hits while striking out five in six innings against San Diego on Friday night, but lost 2-1. The Mets fell for just the second time in Santana’s last 10 starts.
Haren will attempt to earn his first road win of the season. He is 0-3 with a 4.94 ERA in five starts away from Chase Field.
The right-hander gave up three runs and five hits while striking out six in seven innings at Pittsburgh on Saturday night, but did not receive a decision as Arizona won 4-3.
Haren will be trying to spark a Diamondbacks team that has dropped 15 of its last 22. Arizona is 3 1/2 games ahead of the Los Angeles Dodgers in the division.